Section 22(1) FOI Act
Received Mar. 31 1998 Town of Oliver
March 24, 1998
Dear Mayor Larson and Councilors,
I have followed the recent controversy surrounding Oliver resident and Internet Service Provider, Mr. Bemard Klatt. Because I believe freedom of speech on the Internet to an issue of great importance, I am writing with my comments.
When Mr. Klatt's business first became an issue it seemed that your instincts in this matter were weighted towards Justice and fairness. That is to say, from what I could gather in the newspapers, it appeared that originally the position of Oliver Town Council was that Mr. Klatt was operating a legal business and it was not the concern of council to interject itself in any way. The same was true of the public meeting room Mr. Klatt had rented for his free speech meeting (or as the establishment media referred to it: "so-called free speech meeting"). In the first instance Mayor Larson had stated that Mr. Klatt, as a resident of Oliver, had as much right as the next citizen to rent a public meeting space. But then somehow things changed. One can't help thinking it was pressure from groups like the one Mr. Sol Littman belongs to that provoked the change. Ironically, the man who had smeared the entire community of Oliver as being the "hate capital of Canada" had won the day. Suddenly the mayor of Oliver was using the same terminology and smear words as Mr. Littman. The intimidation also resulted in Mr. Klatt being deprived of a right that all citizens should be entitled to i.e., the right to use a public meeting space without fear of discrimination. In a just system, Mr. Klatt would be able to successfully sue the town of Oliver for damages incurred as a result of the broken agreement. But I'm sure the second class status that has now been bestowed upon Mr. Klatt by town council and Sol Littman will preclude any such possibility.
In stating briefly why I think keeping the Internet free is such an important matter, permit me to quote from John Milton: "Let truth and falsehood grapple freely, for who ever knew truth put to the worst in a free and open encounter". Unfortunately, the history of human society has been one in which freedom of speech has been the exception rather than the rule because bad governments know that to grant free speech to the citizenry will result in the exposing of a corrupt states' evil deeds, and the end of its rule. In the modem era, the triumph of the American Revolution brought about a system in which the free speech rights of all citizens were guaranteed. But even under this system, especially with the advent of the modem mass media, it could be argued that, while freedom of speech was guaranteed, only those with the money and political influence to own the print or electronic media could really have their voices heard. With the coming of the Internet, for the first time in history, nobody can complain that his voice is being silenced by the powers that be because every individual, without a major expense, can put his ideas out there for all to see. But Mr. Littman and Co. want to change all that. Mr. Littman does not want truth to grapple freely with falsehood. He wants to tell us what is truth and what is falsehood (at least on his own pet issues), and then criminalize everyone who doesn't come to the same conclusion. This has been the method of the tyrant since time immemorial.
In the right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech we have inherited an invaluable tradition, which has been paid for in blood. The ancient Greek philosopher Euripides said, "A slave is he who cannot speak his thought". My own personal belief is that our mainstream political parties have become so driven by, and fearful of, powerful lobby groups (such as the one Mr. Littman belongs to) that they can no longer be entirely relied upon to defend this tradition. Therefore it is up to private citizens to stand up for freedoms already won, and by their example, give others the courage to do the same. Mr. Bernard Klatt of Oliver B.C. has served admirably in this role but, at least in this instance, Oliver town council has not. I hope that, upon reflection, you will rethink your position and in future will not try to deprive Mr. Klatt of his rights as a free citizen. Don't be afraid of Sol Littman's name-calling.
Let me end by quoting a great Amenican and man of freedom, Benjamin Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." And for those who truly want to fight for freedom and against tyranny, another quote by Ben Franklin, uttered at the outset of the Arnerican revolution, might be noteworthy: "We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately".
With the regards of a citizen,
Section 22(1) FOI Act
cc Oliver Chronicle